[Foundation-l] Wikimania and the Muhammad pix

Robert Rohde rarohde at gmail.com
Thu Feb 21 01:15:18 UTC 2008

On Wed, Feb 20, 2008 at 12:52 PM, David Gerard <dgerard at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 20/02/2008, teun spaans <teun.spaans at gmail.com> wrote:
> >  "increase its educational value, null."
> > May i disagree on this point? They at least show, i suppose, as some of
> the
> >  illustrations on the Muhammed articles are some centuries old, that the
> >  opinion on this subject has varied over the centuries.
> Indeed. I was unaware, until the present discussion, just how widely
> this viewpoint - that images of Muhammad are verboten in all
> circumstances - is in fact highly disputed.

For some general background on the Islamic view of depictions of Muhammad, I
would suggest the following Wikipedia pages are at least a useful starting


Also, I would suggest that David's characterization as "highly disputed", is
something of an oversimplification.   It is not really that this is
actively "disputed" but more an acknowledgment that there exist
different views among the different religious traditions within Islam
(starting with Sunni vs. Shi'a).  This is much the same way that there exist
different religious faiths within Christianity that disagree on any number
of issues, but I don't think we would characterize those differences of
faith as "disputes", per se.

Also, it is worth noting that ~90% of Muslims come from the Sunni faith, and
that most (all?) schools of thought within the modern Sunni tradition do
consider images of Muhammad as inappropriate (with varying degrees of
fervor).  So while it may be useful to acknowledge differences of opinion
within Islam, I believe it is also the case that a significant majority of
Muslims view representations of Muhammed as (at least) disrespectful.

-Robert Rohde

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